Uruguay president Jose Mujica only has seven months remaining in office, and there’s one major logistics priority his administration intends to launch before his March 2015 departure: The Deep Water Port in Rocha.

The new Puerto de Aguas Profundas will be the largest infrastructure project in the country’s history, and the executive branch is preparing to open the bid process which has generated significant interest in recent weeks from both regional and international investors.

Russian president Vladimir Putin expressed interest in participating in the port project during his meeting with Mujica last week in Brasilia. In the meeting, Mujica used a map to explain Uruguay’s strategic location sandwiched between Argentina and Brazil and surrounded by millions of hectares of agricultural commodity and mineral production. Uruguay authorities made a similar pitch to Qatari investors in April.

After that meeting, Mujica told El Observador that Uruguay already has a commitment from Brazil to participate in the financing of the US$1 billion port project. More regional interest was confirmed the following day in Asuncion when Mujica signed three bilateral agreements with Paraguay president Horacio Cartes.

As part of the project financing, Uruguay is planning to offer 30-year concessions to both countries and private companies that want to build and operate their own terminals and docks within the port facility which will be located in El Palenque halfway between La Paloma and Cabo Polonio. This landlord arrangement already exists in the Port of Montevideo where Belgium’s Katoen Natie has operated since 2001, writes El Observador’s Martin Viggiano.

In addition to benefiting regional neighbors, the new port will greatly facilitate the export of Uruguay commodities including forestry products given the high concentration of quality timberland in the country’s central and eastern departments. The port will also benefit from the construction of the country’s third billion dollar pulp mill in the eastern department of Cerro Largo.

One of the private companies that will undoubtedly have a major logistics footprint in the Rocha port is Anglo-Swiss mining group Zamin Ferrous. The company is planning to invest US$3.5 billion in its Aratiri mine project in the department of Treinta y Tres.  Over twenty years, Zamin plans to extract 1.8 billion tons of iron ore concentrate and transport it via a 212 kilometer (131 mile) underground mineshaft from Valentines directly to the future Port of Rocha. (Full Story in Spanish)

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